Resource for Mythicist and Response Documentation

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Resource for Mythicist and Response Documentation

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Jun 28, 2020 1:06 pm

Chris Hansen wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 12:11 pm
I do not think the parallels actually hold up, especially as N. Wyatt (in 2017) has shown that Ba'al's "death" and "resurrection" are likely to be (as Mark S. Smith argued) related to kingship ascension.
I am not referring to the application (whether fertility cult or kingship ascension or what have you) to which a template of dying and rising might be put; I am referring to the template itself: the pattern of a divine figure being obedient to the point of dying and then being restored to life.

You appeal to Nicolas Wyatt, so here is Nicolas Wyatt:

Nicolas Wyatt, "The Problem of 'Dying and Rising' Gods: The Case of Baal," in Ugarit-Forschungen, Internationales Jahrbuch für die Altertumskunde Syrien Palästinas, Band 48 (2017), page 820: It seems perverse to deny that Baal dies: the language is formulaic for dying.

Nicolas Wyatt, "The Problem of 'Dying and Rising' Gods: The Case of Baal," in Ugarit-Forschungen, Internationales Jahrbuch für die Altertumskunde Syrien Palästinas, Band 48 (2017), page 822: Here the expression "placed him in a grave of the gods of the underworld" (tštnn bḫrt ilm arṣ) is formulaic, occurring in KTU 1.5 v 5 and also in the Aqhat story, KTU 1.19 iii 6, 20, 35, where, referring to Aqhat's burial, it cannot mean anything but the interment of the dead.

Nicolas Wyatt, "The Problem of 'Dying and Rising' Gods: The Case of Baal," in Ugarit-Forschungen, Internationales Jahrbuch für die Altertumskunde Syrien Palästinas, Band 48 (2017), page 826: To infer from the text at either end of the gap [of nearly 40 lines at the beginning of KTU 1.6 v] that Baal has returned, been restored, resurrected, or whatever we wish to call it, is a reasonable, indeed the only reasonable interpretation of the materials.

Ba'al dies, and Ba'al rises; Jesus dies, and Jesus rises. Ba'al's death is in obedience to someone (to whom is unclear, due to a lacuna in the text); Jesus' death is in obedience to God the Father. Death is conquered by Ba'al in the process or as a consequence of Ba'al rising; death is abolished by Jesus in the process or as a consequence of Jesus rising. These specific correspondences are the template or the pattern of which I am speaking. Whether or not the pattern or template meant the same thing to different people over time is a separate issue.
As such, interpreting Ba'al as a dying-rising god is misinformed from the start.
Ba'al dies, and Ba'al rises. The exact term you wish to use for this phenomenon is not relevant to my point. It is the concept of death and revival from death that I am talking about.
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Chris Hansen
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Re: Resource for Mythicist and Response Documentation

Post by Chris Hansen » Sun Jun 28, 2020 1:13 pm

I don't think his definition necessarily defines all mythicists nor can all mythicists find themselves in it. The first point alone means that Thomas L. Brodie, Bruno Bauer, Albert Kalthoff, and others cannot be defined therein. His paradigm only is of the celestial Jesus hypothesis, but not of literary mythicist theories. And I would also distinguish it further from astrotheological schools.

And what book are you referencing and in what language? Kryvelev wrote several.

Also you are taking bits and pieces of Wyatt's statements out of context. The text has Baal die and rise. The problem is that it is not a belief about Baal dying and rising but about the ascension of a new king.

If you are going to read Wyatt's work, don't quote mine it, that is a fallacy.

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Re: Resource for Mythicist and Response Documentation

Post by Chris Hansen » Sun Jun 28, 2020 1:18 pm

Also from what I can see, Kryvelev is more in line with Price (and the Radicals) than Carrier (who thinks the Dutch Radicals are hokum), as he adopts the second century date for the Pauline epistles.

Furthermore, he actually makes the mythicist case even ridiculously harder to prove by dating the epistles to the second century (and also has to engage in a huge amount of historical revisionism like all of the radicals, but that is a different note altogether).

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Re: Resource for Mythicist and Response Documentation

Post by Chris Hansen » Sun Jun 28, 2020 1:31 pm

If you are going to use Wyatt, have some more context:

"The poet knows full well that it will be vindicated by a return to life and power, cemented in victory over Mot.32 Are we to believe that the “resurrection” was an eschatological (end-of-history) concept? There is no reason to think so in an absolute sense, but as we shall see, the trope’s link with KTU 1.161 does involve it in a more restricted context, concerning beliefs in post-mortem existence in Ugaritian religious thought."

Furthermore, in his review of Mettinger's work, Wyatt basically demonstrates how most of Mettinger's attempts to save the dying-rising Baal fail in light of newer evidence.

It is completely irrelevant whether or not Baal dies and rises in the narrative. The narrative may have absolutely no belief or relevance to the beliefs of the people. In effect, the simple reality of the narrative cannot substantiate whether or not Baal was a dying-rising god. I'd add, you have an even worse case with Ahmad Al-Jallad's recent research with the Arabic inscription that echoes Baal's fight with Mot reading:

“Mot has celebrated a feast; the scorner eats / established is the succession of his nights and days / and behold, Baal is cut off; cut off indeed, but not dead.”

In addition, Philo of Byblos' surviving fragments don't attest to a dying Baal either, and neither do the records of Jupiter Dolichenus. In fact, there is no evidence of a dying-rising Baal outside one single narrative, as Wyatt and Margalit have demonstrated, and as Mettinger has admitted. In effect, there is virtually nothing left, given Mettinger's defense no longer stands up to scrutiny.

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Re: Resource for Mythicist and Response Documentation

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:01 pm

Chris Hansen wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 1:13 pm
Also you are taking bits and pieces of Wyatt's statements out of context. The text has Baal die and rise.
That is all that is needed for the existence of the template.
The problem is that it is not a belief about Baal dying and rising but about the ascension of a new king.
This, again, is irrelevant for my point. You may have perfectly valid points which rely upon how the template was interpreted, but my point is independent of that.

In our own day, some Christians interpret Jesus' death and resurrection in a completely nonliteral sense, while others (most?) interpret it quite literally (without necessarily denying certain figurative meanings to it). Both kinds are reading basically the same source materials, so far as origins are concerned (the NT and other early works). But they are each free to interpret those source materials very differently.

In the case at hand, the suggestion I am toying with is that both Ba'al and Jesus reflect a culturally available template or pattern involving the descent, obedience, death, and resurrection of a divine figure. The parallels are obvious; they ought to be explored, and there is no valid way to wave them away simply on the basis that those who composed the Ba'al narrative may have taken them figuratively while the earliest Christians may have taken them literally (a point which would have to be demonstrated, not assumed).
If you are going to read Wyatt's work, don't quote mine it, that is a fallacy.
I plead innocent to the charge of quote mining. I quoted, nothing more. My position requires nothing more than that the death and resurrection described in the text be "real" so far as the text level is concerned, and you have agreed that this is so.
It is completely irrelevant whether or not Baal dies and rises in the narrative. The narrative may have absolutely no belief or relevance to the beliefs of the people.
I am sure that there are approaches to the evidence in which this perfectly valid distinction matters, but it does not matter to the point that I am making. For my point, a different distinction is required, one by which it is of little moment whether the originators of the Ba'al myth took it literally or not; what matters is the possible existence of a pattern that could potentially be employed for other purposes (much in the same way that the Christ story is employed in literature to create the so-called Christ figure). I am not trying to trace a direct line of worshipers from Ba'al to Jesus, though I would not presumptuously rule that out. Rather, I am wondering whether the dying and rising of a divine figure which we see in the Ba'al story might not bear some kind of relation to the dying and rising of a divine figure in the Jesus story. The parallels are there to investigate; to deny them would be madness. I am not saying that the outcome is certain, either. I used to have a pet theory (of the most tentative nature, mind you) which depended upon there being a connection of some kind, but I no longer hold to that theory. Yet the similarities are still there, and I still wonder why that is.

It is possible that I misunderstood your original point for bringing up Wyatt in the first place; you seem to be mainly going for a position in which there were no worshipers on the ground who thought that Ba'al had literally died and risen again, whereas I think I thought that you were denying all possible connection, even in a literary or otherwise formal sense. And, from my perspective, you have definitely misconstrued the nature of my claim. Hopefully this post will be a step toward clearing up the confusion.
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Giuseppe
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Re: Resource for Mythicist and Response Documentation

Post by Giuseppe » Sun Jun 28, 2020 8:23 pm

I don't think his definition necessarily defines all mythicists nor can all mythicists find themselves in it. The first point alone means that Thomas L. Brodie, Bruno Bauer, Albert Kalthoff, and others cannot be defined therein. His paradigm only is of the celestial Jesus hypothesis, but not of literary mythicist theories. And I would also distinguish it further from astrotheological schools.
not all the mythicists, I agree, but a very large part of them. And he in OHJ explains the difference between his paradigm and what you claim "literary mythicist theories" (=invention ex nihilo of Jesus). At any case, Kalthoff enters in his paradigm, differently from Bruno Bauer and Brodie.
And what book are you referencing and in what language? Kryvelev wrote several.
from Christ, myth or reality. I have also his book on the gospels (translated in French).

Chris Hansen wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 1:18 pm
Also from what I can see, Kryvelev is more in line with Price (and the Radicals) than Carrier (who thinks the Dutch Radicals are hokum), as he adopts the second century date for the Pauline epistles.
again, just as Drews does in his last books. But Price himself would say you that his case is an instance of the Carrier's paradigm.
Chris Hansen wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 1:18 pm
Furthermore, he actually makes the mythicist case even ridiculously harder to prove by dating the epistles to the second century (and also has to engage in a huge amount of historical revisionism like all of the radicals, but that is a different note altogether).
listen Chris, I like your efforts of research for make your book more and more complete but I think that your book would profit if you don't introduce so explicitly your negative views on mythicism. Too much often I see that you criticize Carrier in your book, even reporting his personal case about not proved sexual accusations. The general tenor of your book seems to be: "see, the mythicists are too much different even between them and Carrier is not original at all", when really a great number of mythicists, if they were living, would say that their case is an instance of the paradigm described by Carrier. Hence Carrier is original even only for that.

Then I see too much emphasis by you on the nazi mythicism, when really there was only a nazi mythicist in a sea of nazi historicists. I don't understand why you point out the racist views of the author of Ecce Deus, for a thing.

You are right to criticize astrotheology, but Drews was astrotheologist only about his interpretation of the first gospel. And even on that point, he says in a prefaction to a French edition of his Christ Myth, that he is persuaded by the mythicist E. Raschke that Marcion or a marcionite wrote proto-Mark. An idea still worthy of attention according to prof Markus Vinzent.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Resource for Mythicist and Response Documentation

Post by Chris Hansen » Sun Jun 28, 2020 8:26 pm

"That is all that is needed for the existence of a template"

Wrong. If you can't establish that there was a belief in a dying-rising god Baal, then it isn't a dying-rising template. Wyatt demonstrates it is not a dying-rising template but a kingship ascension template. Try learning how themes work. Cherry picking is also fallacious, so it demonstrates your argument is baseless logically.

"This, again, is irrelevant for my point."

No actually it is directly pertinent. If you cannot demonstrate that it is a dying-rising genre text, then you cannot demonstrate it is a dying-rising template. That dying-rising happens in the narrative does not determine that Baal is a dying-rising god, unless the genre of the text supports this (i.e. as in Adonis).

Your points about literalism are irrelevant.

And you are anachronistic. You cannot demonstrate a template for Jesus using Baal, because there is no evidence Baal was dying-rising outside of Ugarit, which was destroyed 1300 years before Jesus existed, written in a language no one else knew, and only in a destroyed city. As such, it is a purely fallacious anachronistic argument to use Baal to establish any template for Jesus. You are now also ignoring the Arabian evidence I pointed out which explicitly says Baal did not die in his engagement with Mot.

Which means they did NOT believe Baal died. It is purely a kingship motif, therefore, Baal is not a template for dying-rising gods.

"I quoted, nothing more."

You quoted out of context and without historical literacy. It is fallacious, and also a disingenuous misconstruing of Wyatt's positions, since he refutes the dying-rising template for Baal.

"Rather, I am wondering whether the dying and rising of a divine figure which we see in the Ba'al story might not bear some kind of relation to the dying and rising of a divine figure in the Jesus story. The parallels are there to investigate; to deny them would be madness."

You cannot establish that Baal was conceptualized as a dying-rising god. Because the genre of the text is NOT ABOUT BAAL IT IS ABOUT THE ASCENSION OF THE KING. If you cannot account for the genre then you cannot establish a dying-rising template. As Mettinger demonstrated, a dying-rising template is inexorably linked to vegetation cycles (Baal is not) and to cultic ritual in resurrecting cycles (Baal is not). As such, one cannot establish he was believed to be a divine resurrecting deity. Instead, he represents the ascension of the king, purely metaphor. He is not a dying-rising god. This is what Wolfram von Soden, Tikva Frymer-Kensky, and Tryggve Mettinger both noted with Marduk.

The genre of the text and the metaphorical content dictate what is a dying-rising god. Not the narrative. That you can point to the narrative literally means nothing on its own. Your case is baseless under any critical socio-religious methodology.

This is a basic element of religious study. If you can't account for the genre of the text and its themes, then you can't make an argument. And given the genre and themes of those elements are NOT dying-rising, that means the narrative is not in its meaning. Or do you think the political propaganda that *no one* believed true about Marduk, and which every Assyriologist including those supporting the dying-rising template, consider refuted, is actually a case for a dying-rising Marduk, simply because the narrative is there?

If so, then you prove that your case is so flimsy and lacking in methodological rigor that it your Baal argument is even worse off. If not, then you prove why your Baal argument doesn't work.
Last edited by Chris Hansen on Sun Jun 28, 2020 8:36 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Resource for Mythicist and Response Documentation

Post by Chris Hansen » Sun Jun 28, 2020 8:30 pm

I'm writing a history of the figures of mythicism. His sexual harassment case is relevant, especially for his ability to influence the debate.

And where did Price say his work is an instance of Carrier's paradigm? And it isn't Carrier's. It does not belong to Carrier, nor did he first describe it.

Also, I pointed out that there were Nazi mythicists in the Volkish movement, identifying Jesus with the sun, and more. I also note the racist views of W. B. Smith because they are pertinent (or does racism play no part in historical investigation in your mind?)

My book goes into sociological context, as any good history does. If you can't handle that, then you can't handle an objective look at your own theses.

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Re: Resource for Mythicist and Response Documentation

Post by Giuseppe » Sun Jun 28, 2020 8:36 pm

Chris Hansen wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 8:30 pm
And it isn't Carrier's. It does not belong to Carrier, nor did he first describe it.
he is the first to introduce it in a peer-reviewed book and to show it in minimal extreme analytical terms, so that anyone can easily classify a mythicist case as a particular instance of it or not.

As to racism and mythicism etc and private problems of Carrier, I see what you are doing: it is called poisoning the well. Isn't it?

About Price, I wonder that you raise that question. In any his book he resumes his case as basically an instance of Carrier's paradigm.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Resource for Mythicist and Response Documentation

Post by Chris Hansen » Sun Jun 28, 2020 8:43 pm

Part 2 of my book is discussing common trends and arguments of mythicism. This means looking at sociological connections, including racism.

Carrier himself in his lawsuit claimed that the harassment case may have hurt his book sales and popularity. Therefore it is directly relevant. As I demonstrate with Ben Klassen and the Nazi authors, racism is directly pertinent to why they accepted mythicism. As such, noting it for W. B. Smith is justified.

I think you are also missing my epilogue, where I actively praise and endorse the continuation of this debate... and I actually have quite a bit of praise for innovation throughout my book. But this is something I consistently see with mythicists. Noting any sociological reality or bias that may affect their "objectiveness" they get offended over. Any time I critique, they become offended. It seems like they are opposed to all history that does not treat them like angels.

"he is the first to introduce it in a peer-reviewed book"

They are not in extreme "analytical" terms. As Petterson noted, it was in undergraduate terms, at best. And being in a peer reviewed book does not make it his by any means.

And no it isn't poisoning the well. It is called accounting for all relevant data. The sexual harassment suit is directly pertinent to whether or not his thesis will spread, the attention it will get, and how it will be perceived. That makes it relevant to a history of mythicism.

"Carrier's paradigm", again applying it to Price is anachronism. You are just making everything Carrier-centric. It is honestly rather disheartening that you make the whole of mythicism revolve around Carrier.

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